tough days and presen(ts)ce

Emmanuel our God, is now in our midst, with the glory of His Father, and the Holy Spirit

We hear this so often in church, and we’re reminded of His presence. Fact is – I have days where I wish His presence was more obvious. I have days where I wish His presence was more palpable.

Does this mean Emmanuel is not present?  No.

But – that is the easy answer. Isn’t it? The quick, go-to, ‘church-goer’, response. That He is there, but you can’t see Him. As if my spiritual life is a pre-requisite to have a spiritual life.

“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Jude 1:11

Tough words. I wonder about these 3 examples. If I knew nothing about them, the tone of the verse sends an obvious message – not good. These are people just like you and me, but possibly missing some part of their relationship with God. Jude doesn’t write very much, but mentions that they went towards the ‘natural’ and corrupted themselves.

Without a doubt, they all ‘believed in God’, and in some respect, each witnessed His work first hand. What was it then that caused Cain to kill his brother? For Balaam to scandalize and curse the people of God for his own gains? For Korah to rebel against Moses? What in my way of life can cause me to make said decisions?

Cain was first. His problem was offering things that were not fit for God. There are days where I’m not sure if I’m offering to God a pure sacrifice. Not a goat vs calf vs vegetables – but whats the condition of my mind, heart and soul? I wonder what it is I’m prepping to give Him? I need to offer Him from the depths of me. I need to give freely.

A rich man is not one who has much, but one who gives much. For what he gives away remains his forever. – St John Chrysostom

Balaam was from Numbers 22. He took payment to curse God’s people. Even if he heard God’s voice, Balaam was insistent to put forward His personal gain. He heard it loud and clear, from several sources. Guys and gals – I need to quit living for the self! Putting others first would have saved Balaam. It would have imitated Christ. You and I can do the same.

Image result for talking donkey

Korah was mentioned in his refusal of following Moses. He avoided the ways set by the leadership. Moses was a follower of God, so I should follow Moses, and be like him. Just like Paul reminds us – to imitate him, as he imitates Christ. I need to humble myself in front of authority. This is imperative to growth.

Image result for emmanuel god with us

1thingisneeded my friends. To remember that “Emmanuel” is our state of being. That God is perpetually with us, but its on us to recognize it. I was speaking with some of my students recently and asked how things have been – and we reflected that there are always flowers blooming. The sun is always rising. Children are always being born and laughing. Life is always beautiful. The question and challenge remains – do I recognize this? Where is my focus?

As we approach the holiday season – Thanksgiving is followed by the “black” Friday, where everyone shows the least bit of satisfaction for what they have and materialism is king. Is God with us? Do we live in the “Emmanuel” state of mind?? As the Advent comes, and we await His wonderful birth – Christmas – do we focus on gifts? or on His presence?

Christ is our aim. So lets learn from Jude – offer myself, quit living for myself and humble myself.  They’re one in the same – hence the name of the blog 🙂 These are some practical steps.

I know I have had some very tough days recently, and you may relate as well. stay hopeful friends. He is in our midst.

PS – if you don’t know why Donkey was on this page, go read Numbers 22.

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